Thank God and take Courage
Well, are you ready?
Did you think you would live this long?
My Grandfather, Father and an uncle of the same line did not live to this age.
I did not expect God to put up with mankind’s sinful ways this long.
I did not expect for him to put up with us past the year 1999.
To that add that I am still here as pastor and you have my situation.
Surprised, amazed, and wondering what is coming.
And if I have what it takes to not only survive but make the most of and enjoy what the years to come will have for me.
How about you?
Did you expect to be alive in 2021?
Or did you even think about it or worry about it?
Just live the day the best you can and the next one, and the next one and now here you are.
Often as I prepare to go to bed I think, wow, I survived another day.
I guess if you have never died or come close to dying you might not think such things.
There are not many who have gotten to our ages that have not has a close call.
Most of us have our stories of how God intervened to keep us alive.
Praise God for the days we have had.
Praise God for the days yet to come.
May they all be lived to his glory and account for something good for his kingdom.
Acts 28:15 has these words: “On seeing them Paul thanked God and took courage”.
Full passage is Acts 28:11-16
Paul is being taken to Rome for trial as a Roman citizen.
He experienced a ship wreck, a snake bite and healed many sick on the island where they spent three months waiting to travel on to Rome.
It is when they finally arrived in Rome and Paul was in the company of believers that he thanked God and was encouraged.
In the company of the saints he felt whole again.
Change is hard for us.
Times of change are most uncomfortable.
Moving from one stage in our lives to another is unsettling.
Moving from student to employed.
Single to married.
Young to mature or older.
Moving from one profession or job to another.
Moving from a familiar location to a new one.
It is hard to say goodbye to what we know and move on to new things.
The transition to a new year can be upsetting to also.
What might come our way in the next year?
As we prepare for another year let us look back and thank God with gratitude for what he has done for us this past year.
Maybe it was not the year we wanted but it was a year to live for God.
Also let us look forward with faith and hope for what he will continue to do in the new year.
Giving us meaning and purpose within his Kingdome.
We are looking at one of these change points in the life of the apostle Paul.
To stay alive he called on his citizenship as a Roman.
And now was being taken to Rome for trial.
Paul had experienced success and failure in his ministry.
Paul’s life was not perfect.
He was driven out of cities, and put in prison for his beliefs.
He must have been troubled in mind and exhausted in body during his trials.
Paul did not know what awaited him in Rome.
When believers in Rome heard that he was coming they immediately went to meet him.
Some of them traveled as far as forty-three miles, and others traveled thirty-three miles and when Paul saw them he thanked God and was encouraged.
His actions can be an example for us as to how one can press on toward the mark.
We can thank God and take courage because God remains the same.
God told Malachi that he was the Lord and does not change.
Hebrews speaks of the unchanging Christ for he is the same yesterday, today and forever.
As we face the uncertain and uncharted road of 2021 we can be certain that God has not changed his character or his purpose; not his promises or provisions.
He is the solid Rock in whom we can trust and on whom we can place our feet for safety and security when the storms of life beat down on us.
As the psalmist declared, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”.
We change, families change. Life situations change.
All around us things are changing but in the midst of whatever may threaten us, we can take courage and be strong in the faith that our God, who has revealed himself in Jesus “The Christ”, will remain the same.
Let us thank God and take courage because the Bible continues to nourish us.
Psalm 119 is a hymn of praise to the benefits that come to those who delight themselves in the Word of God, who let God speak to their deepest needs through his law, his teachings, and his promises.
Peter encourages believers to “long for the pure spiritual milk that by it you may grow up to salvation; for you have tasted the kindness of the Lord”.
The Bible gives strength and courage for the days ahead.
It gives guidance for our times of uncertainty and strength for our times of weakness.
It can even give warnings in times of danger.
If we heed it we can receive direction for decisions we have to make.
It also provided encouragement and comfort in times of grief and sorrow.
Let us thank God, as we come to the end of this year, for the benefits that have come to us through Bible knowledge.
Let us take courage as we face the future, because the Word of God will continue to speak to us according to our individual needs and on the basis of God’s great generosity.
Let us thank God and take courage because the Holy Spirit continues the good work of God within us.
God promises his people the presence of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers.
As Jesus said, “I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him not knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.” John 14:16-17.
Jesus was about to depart but the Holy Spirit was to come as an abiding companion and counselor, to be to his followers a permanent source of strength and guidance.
We can thank God and take courage because the Holy Spirit will be at work in us to help us know what God would have us do to glorify him in our lives.
Let us tank God and take courage because the gospel continues to save those who trust Jesus.
As Paul approached Rome he did so with full confidence in the power of the gospel to save any individual who would put faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
We also can trust God to help us witness to what God has done, and what he is seeking to do through Christ.
God is still in the business of saving people from the waste, ruin, and disappointment of life without faith.
Let us thank God and take courage as we respond to the truth that people can still be saved.
Let us thank God and take courage that God’s invitations are still open.
Some people see the Bible as restrictions and prohibitions or orders and commandments.
It contains thousands of invitations from God to those who believe and follow him.
He invites us to come into the throne room for prayer.
He invites us to be a part of his family.
He invites us to be in partnership with him in his redemptive program.
Let us discover and respond to the great invitations he continues to offer.
Let us thank God and take courage because the future belongs to believers in Christ.
We follow a victorious leader who has defeated Satan, sin, death, and the grave.
We like Paul must declare, “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ“.
There are times when it seems as if the devil is on the throne and that wickedness rules the universe.
In such times, we need with the eyes of faith, to see that the decisive battle of history has already been fought and won on a cross and in an empty tomb.
Because Jesus lives again, we also shall live with him beyond the curtain of death.
Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”.
If we have thanksgiving for the past, we will have courage to face the future as we enter 2021.
Grab hold of God and go boldly into the coming year knowing that He is with you and it will be a great year in the Lord God Almighty.
Amen, So let it be, now and forever more.